Coffee Portraits of John Lennon, Albert Einstein, Marilyn Monroe & Other Icons

Coffee Lennon

Paint­ings by Maria A. Aris­ti­dou

As philoso­pher Mar­shall McLuhan wrote in Under­stand­ing Media, “the medi­um is the mes­sage.”

Artist Maria A. Aris­ti­dou’s medi­um is cof­fee, and late­ly, she’s been gar­ner­ing a lot of atten­tion for java-based por­traits of such cul­tur­al lumi­nar­ies as Ein­stein, Darth Vad­er and The Bea­t­les.

The pro­lif­ic and high­ly-caf­feinat­ed artist found her niche when an acci­den­tal spill gave rise to a some­what sullen fac­sim­i­le of Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Ear­ring.


She has since applied her espres­so blends toward the Mona Lisa and one of Baroque era painter Juan de Arel­lano’s flo­ral still lifes, but for the most part, she draws her sub­jects from the realm of pop cul­ture.

Dorm room faves like Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe, Bob Mar­ley, and John Lennon are over­shad­owed by fic­tion­al super­stars like Frozen’s Queen Elsa, Nintendo’s Mario, and var­i­ous per­son­ages from Game of Thrones.

My favorite? Kyle MacLach­lan as Twin Peaks’ Agent Dale “Damn fine cup of cof­fee, Diane!” Coop­er. That’s not just medi­um. That’s meta!

Aris­ti­dou is not the only artist find­ing inspi­ra­tion in this non-tra­di­tion­al pig­ment. A recent NPR sto­ry on the trend cites cof­fee artists Angel Sarkela-Saur and Andy Saur and Giu­lia Bernardel­li.

Scroll back­wards to the mid-1800s and you’ll find author—and gift­ed drafts­man—Vic­tor Hugo exper­i­ment­ing with the stuff. Nor was his promis­cu­ous nib a stranger to the artis­tic pos­si­bil­i­ties of soot, coal dust, and blood.

Aris­ti­dou, who holds degrees in Fine Art Print­mak­ing and Arts Health, eschews the tra­di­tion­al artist’s web­site in favor of social media. Not only is she a mas­ter of the hash­tag, she also designs cakes. View her com­plete oeuvre—including sev­er­al car­tons of cor­po­rate logo East­er eggs and some recent fash­ion illus­tra­tions that com­bine water­col­or with java—on her Face­book or Insta­gram pages.

Above you can watch Aris­ti­dou paint por­traits of Ein­stein, the Bea­t­les and R2D2 in quick time-lapse motion.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Vic­tor Hugo’s Sur­pris­ing­ly Mod­ern Draw­ings Made with Coal, Dust & Cof­fee (1848–1851)

J.S. Bach’s Com­ic Opera, “The Cof­fee Can­ta­ta,” Sings the Prais­es of the Great Stim­u­lat­ing Drink (1735)

Black Cof­fee: Doc­u­men­tary Cov­ers the His­to­ry, Pol­i­tics & Eco­nom­ics of the “Most Wide­ly Tak­en Legal Drug”

The Fine Art of Paint­ing Por­traits on Cof­fee Foam

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

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